Book Giveaway Contest: Best One-Liners

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KatieHal:

A chance to win a free copy of Auston Habershaw’s upcoming book by doing what you probably already love doing–coming up with a witty one-liner!

Originally posted on Auston Habershaw:

Hello there, friends! Say, have you heard I have a novel out? No?! Heavens to murgatroyd, wherever have you been? Well, no matter, no matter – we’ll fix things up right soon. Here’s what I’m going to do:

I’m going to give you a free copy of THE IRON RING. Yes, that’s right – give you one. For free.

I’ve got a bunch of copies of THE IRON RING to give to you good people. Why? Well, it just so happens the sequel to THE IRON RING is coming out on June 2nd, and I want to give some people a chance to read the first one before they read the second, right? Only seems fair, and time is of the essence, my friends.

Now, obviously this is such a stupendous deal that I might be inundated with requests for that limited number of free copies, and then I’d have to…

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Diversity in Games (and Other Media)

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Nothing like a sinus infection & viral bronchitis combo to slow your week, topped off with busting up your phone! At I can say that I am on the mend; as for the phone, that remains to be seen.

Since the Daily Post doesn’t have this week’s photo challenge up yet, here’s a topic that crossed my mind again recently and does on occasion when I’m writing or designing, or just reading about games and media in general: diversity. I’ll be talking mostly about games here, but a lot of this applies to other media like movies, TV, comics, and so forth, so expect some crisscrossing of that line.

It’s no big secret or shock that most game protagonists are the default white male. Most designers are white men, and historically their target demographic has been white males. It still baffles me that some people react some strongly against this “status quo” being changed or challenged, but that’s a different topic altogether. I understand why this is the default–the old adage of “write what you know” is a powerful and natural direction to take when writing. It’s easiest to imagine yourself as the protagonist of a story. If you were to take a look at all my writing and roleplaying characters over the years, you’d find that most of them were female, white, with red or brown hair. This, and likewise the default white casts or male white protagonists of TV shows, movies and games did not stick out to me as odd for a long time.  Read the rest of this entry

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Motion.”

It’s back! A quick refresher, I used to hit up The Daily Post every Friday to see the lovely photos submitted to their weekly photo challenge. Not being a photographer but finding some real lovely pics in there, I started using one picture each week as inspiration for a short piece of writing.

This week’s challenge on was “Motion,” and my inspiration is this picture by danbochat–lovely work!

Lighting the wick within the paper lantern, I was surprised at how effective the small heat source really was at inflating the balloon, at how quickly the lantern in my hands felt eager to lift into the air. Watching the other around me begin to fill the night sky, they were like falling stars in reverse, and it seemed that this was how wishes should be made: on the stars we send into the ether, letting them go, letting them leave us, and trusting that they would bring that wish out into the world. Like the flap of the butterfly’s wings, perhaps, the heat of that small fire would lift the lantern and affect the wind patterns and set off the chain of minute events that lead to the wish it carried coming true. It would be carried off to where it needed to go, lifted by hope and faith and one wish, one tiny flaming wick.

Something about that idea felt more genuine than the path of a star falling to the earth, leaving the heavens to crash to just one point, burdened by the wishes of so many. This lantern now leaving my hands, this was mine and mine alone. And it shared the warm night air with so many others, filling the view above us with our stars and the ones already in the sky, all of them taking flight together, but each with its own wish and its own mission. Not stars that were fading and ending, but stars that were just being lit, just beginning their journeys.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion

Monsterhearts Review

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Monsterhearts Review

KatieHal:

I wrote this review of the indie RPG Monsterhearts last year for The Mental Attic, so it’s about time I reblogged it here! We’ve actually since moved this game to an adapted version of FAE (Fate Accelerated Edition), and I’m hoping to do a review/recap on how that’s been working for us at some point as well. Enjoy!

Originally posted on The Mental Attic:

Monsterhearts is an indie Role Playing Game, published by Apocalypse World and created by Avery Mcdaldno (formerly Joe), about the “messy lives of teenage monsters,” in which characters take the roles of supernatural teens in the high school settings, along the lines of TV shows such as Buffy or the Vampire Diaries. If you’ve ever wanted to game in the young adult paranormal romance genre, there’s no better system for diving head-first into it than this one.

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Game Design: Support the Story Experience

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More than once I’ve been asked what advice I have for people who want to design games, and everytime my first piece of advice is make sure everything in the game supports the story/experience.

I have usually just said “story”, but not every game’s main thrust is the story–hence, story/experience. What does that mean? Even if your game is open world exploration or a MOBA fighting game (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) or an FPS, and not an adventure game (as is my wont), there’s still a specific experience you want players to have. A mood, a frame of mind, a social interaction, or whatever else. I would add that I believe most people unconsciously add their own story to games that don’t lay out a specific one (ask me sometime about the narrative I’ve decided to paint when my husband plays World of Tanks!), but even if they don’t add their own, there is still the experience.

That’s what it means in theory. In practice? It means don’t add anything to your game that doesn’t support the story you’re telling. Don’t do it because when you do, you waste your time (and money and resources) and you waste the player’s time on something that is superfluous, unimportant, and may even remove them from the gameplay experience. This is why you should never add a puzzle for the sake of a puzzle. Only add a puzzle if it reinforces a point about the characters, the world, or the plot. If it’s there just to kill time, then that is all you’ve done. Killed time. And with the modern game audience, that’s all it takes for them to move on to the next thing.

My favorite examples of these are, of course, from adventure games. In that community, it gets called “moon logic” a lot, or puzzles where your true goal is to “figure out what the designer was thinking.” At the peak of this in my book are three puzzles from King’s Quest V: cheese in the machine, pie at the yeti, and emeralds in honey.

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Words of Wisdom From the Greats

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Originally posted on Auston Habershaw:

Pictured (closest to furthest): TR Napper, me, Kary English, Steve Pantazis, Zach Chapman, Daniel J Davis Pictured (closest to furthest): TR Napper, me, Kary English, Steve Pantazis, Zach Chapman, Daniel J Davis

This past week I have been in LA at the Writers of the Future Workshop. I have heard from a dozen different luminaries in the fields of Scifi/Fantasy all about a wide range of topics. Each and every one of them provided deep and useful advice for furthering my career and the careers of my fellow winners. While I couldn’t possibly recap what I learned entirely, I can provide you with some highlights. Note that most of these statements are paraphrased from my notes, so they aren’t direct quotes. Enjoy!

Dave Farland

On concept:

Every idea for a science fiction or fantasy short story sounds stupid when you explain it to someone. Learn to embrace the stupid. The trick is how to make the stupid idea work.

On setting:

Setting comes first. A sense of…

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The Right to Make You Feel Icky

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Originally posted on Auston Habershaw:

I quote from Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols:

Let us finally consider how naïve it is altogether to say: “Man ought to be such and such!” Reality shows us an enchanting wealth of types, the abundance of a lavish play and change of forms – and some wretched loafer of a moralist comments: “No! Man ought to be different.” He even knows what man should be like, this wretched bigot and prig: he paints himself on the wall and comments, “Ecce homo!” But even when the moralist addresses himself only to the single human being and says to him, “You ought to be such and such!” he does not cease to make himself ridiculous.”

Today’s news has brought to my attention two things of which I feel you lot ought to be aware. First, there is Indiana’s terrible, terrible law just passed by the state legislature, known…

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